How do you tell how old a tree is? If a tree is cut down or falls over, you can count the rings on the stump to know how old it is. But there's a different type of ring on a tree outside of the tiny community of Amber in Jones County: hula hoops.
Amber is a few miles north and east of Anamosa and several miles directly south of Monticello. My friend and I were driving from Cedar Rapids to the Maquoketa area to visit Maquoketa Caves State Park on Sunday and we came upon this marvelous discovery. I had to pull over immediately and get a closer look. This is definitely not something you see every day.
As I drove on, my friend did a quick search on his phone and discovered that this tree is gathering a nice following...but hasn't been famous all that long. According to this article from the KCRG television station, a storm rolled through the area in 2015 and two hula hoops ended up on the tree. The locals aren't sure if someone placed them on there or if Mother Nature had a good sense of humor that day, but there is now certainly more than two hula hoops on there now.
Another article notes that the tree caught fire in 2017....a victim of apparent arson or vandalism. That's too bad. From time to time, some of the hula hoops fall off and more are added all the time. It's quite the site to see.
They've even created a Facebook Page for the tree. There is a lot more information on that page and lots of additional pictures.
I didn't know this fun road side attraction existed until I literally happened upon it - but it certainly brought a smile to my face. Yes, it's maybe a little absurd...but sometimes...this is exactly the kind of thing that that we all need to appreciate and enjoy.